theater

In Which Adri and I Do Not Sing Karaoke

My friend Adri and I have been singing karaoke together for about the past three years.  We have our favorite songs, and we have our karaoke group, and we have our favorite places.  But we also both sing professionally, he with his band Cabs, and I in the occasional musical theatre production or singing telegram.

Recently, a few people in the theater community have been singing cabaret nights at the Troubadour Wine Bar in Minneapolis.  I attended one for my friend Bethany a while back, and chatted with Adrian (different human being altogether) who runs the programming, and ended up booking an evening! (What?!)

For our theme, we've chosen "Songs We Can't Sing at Karaoke"...meaning songs we can never find in anyone's book, or songs we know we just can't get away with there. 

So...my first cabaret night (where I'm not just singing a song or two) will be Monday, October 23rd. Show starts at 8pm, free to the public. Come on down! But make sure to get there early to get a beverage and claim your seat, cuz the place is tiny!

See you on the 23rd for Cab Cabaret at the Troubadour! 

Invisibly Busy

As actors, so often, much of the work we do goes unseen. The training, the preparation for roles, keeping in shape, auditioning, taking classes, etc. 

Even the actual work we do may never see the light of day. Films go unfinished. Training videos get a limited audience. Plays can only be seen by those who attend, and are never seen again. 

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Where Did Last Week Go?

Hello friends! I just shot a 💣TOP SECRET 💣political ad last week...cuz, campaign season. I got to be on set with a bunch of people I know, including my roommate! It was just an extra gig, so I probably won't be visible anyway, but it was great to be on set! 

 

Also, last week, I performed for the first time at Off-Book, which is this really great improv show at Huge Theater where one actor is off book for a scripted scene, and the other actor doesn't even know what scene they're in and has to improvise the lines between. I was given a scene from John Patrick Shanley's play "Where's My Money?" Talking to the other actors who were doing the scripted part, I found that almost all of them were similarly terrified, whether they had done Off-Book before or not. Most of them were respected actors around town who I'd worked with before, so I really felt like I was in good company. Maybe I'll go do it again sometime, but I'll let the adrenaline wear off first!

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Off-Book

Next weekend I will be performing for the very first time at a unique improv performance called Off-Book, where the scenes are performed by one actor who is off-book, and one who has no clue what the hell is going on. I will be the off-book person, so I have some memorizing to do this week!  

From the website:

Come see Off-Book,,Saturday, August 20th at 8:00pm |$12 in advance, $14 at the door

Half-scripted, full speed ahead. It is every actor’s nightmare: getting thrown on stage to perform a play you’ve never read. That’s also the premise of Off Book. We have an actor memorize a script, then send them on stage with an improviser who has no idea what’s going on. Then we sit back and watch the magic happen.

A long-time HUGE Theater favorite, adapted with permission from Upright Citizen Brigade’s Gravid Water.

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Evil Twin at the Minnesota Fringe

It has been a wonderful week and a half at the Minnesota Fringe Festival! We sold out our Friday night show this weekend, and today we almost sold out our final show as well! 

Last Sunday, we were featured on the front page of the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper. 

 Look Ma! We're on the cover! 

Look Ma! We're on the cover! 

Although I don't usually read reviews while I am performing in a show, being the producer, marketing person, actor, etc. makes things a little bit different, and I bent my rules and read the two major reviews that we got, One in City Pages and one in the Star Tribune. We were so happy to be featured in two of the top news outlets in the Twin Cities!

 

Our hope is that this show (and the Twins and Fluffy) will have a future beyond the Minnesota Fringe Festival. Perhaps in another festival somewhere exotic and exciting! Or perhaps a whole other adventure for them to go on! In any case, if you'd like to keep up on those things, please like Evil Twin on Facebook, and we will let you know when those things happen!

Fringe Previews #1

The first of three official MN Fringe Festival previews took place last Monday, and we got added to the lineup just a few days before the show. It was a great evening, with about 30 different shows presenting previews, and we were honored to be chosen by MinnPost's reviewer Pamela Espeland as one of six favorites! Check it out!

 https://www.minnpost.com/artscape/2016/07/pick-your-favorites-fringe-previews-dessa-open-oshaughnessys-season

 The twins, ready to take Fringe by storm! 

The twins, ready to take Fringe by storm! 

Wicked

I just started rehearsals for my first ever show at Old Log Theater!  I'm SO EXCITED! And I'm playing a wicked stepsister!

I take that back...WE are so excited.  My roommate Neal is also in the show. Not only do we get to work together, but we can carpool to Excelsior as well. Neal is playing Cinderella's bird friend.

Me, and my fellow steps, Katie Adducci and Brittany Parker!

Only two more weeks of rehearsal and this baby will be on its feet. Get your tickets now!

My PR Guy Should Be Fired

Hi there!  Yes, it's been months since I've written. Don't take that to mean that I've not been busy...far from it. I'm just a lot better at posting on my personal social media pages ten plus times a day than sitting down to even write a simple little post about my most recent audition, or class work, or the shows I've been doing.

I've been doing a commedia dell'arte show monthly with Shadow Horse Theatre, playing all sorts of fun commedia characters. We do the shows in half-mask, and they are partially-improvised comedies. Sometimes sketch-based, sometimes a full-length storyline. They've been really fun to perform with, but I'll be on hiatus from that for a while because of my upcoming show for the Twin Cities Horror Festival!

More details on that soon. In the meantime, Fringe just ended, and while I had to opt out of doing a show this year, I did end up attending and seeing 25 mostly really good shows. I love my yearly theater binge SO MUCH. And this time I came out truly inspired to create my own production, with two totally different ideas for shows, and I have a meeting with a friend to start brainstorming for the one this week.

I will also be taking part in The Actors' Workout's first ever industry showcase, performing a scene from Martin McDonagh's The Beauty Queen of Leenane with Colleen Barrett, directed by Adam Glatz.

And finally, I got new headshots taken last month, and I am currently agonizing over which ones to choose. I won't stay indecisive long, because I can't wait to show them off! I'll post them here once I've whittled it down from 225 to 4. Wish me luck!

 

Booked!

I wish I knew more about the ins and outs of social media in regards to self-promotion in the acting world. I don't want to say anything where I could potentially get fired from my exciting opportunities.  So...here goes nothing! (Vaguebooking alert)

I got booked for a really exciting commercial gig for CLIENT, and I'm shooting the spot tomorrow! As soon as I clear it with people, I will post more info here, but for now, just be happy that I'm getting paid work, which I will then use to get new headshots (long overdue) and record my VO demo (even more overdue).

And I haven't been posting here as much as I would like.  It seems like so much work for some reason, even though it really shouldn't.  Part of it is how many auditions I've been on in the past few weeks (four auditions and a callback last week, two auditions and two callbacks the week before), plus prepping for upcoming season auditions and working a ton of cases at the U of M Medical School. I sat through the first readthrough for Candid Theater Co's upcoming production of Collected Stories, which looks like it's going to be awesome, and helped get the press release ready for the two shows they're running in rep (some of my first duties as a new board member!) I wrote a new article that I hope to shop out soon, and I'm working on another article which is due next week.  So much going on! All great things!

Until the next fortnight...but hopefully sooner,

Billie Jo

 

Cold + Work = Sluggish Days

First off, before I lament my lack of progress this past week, I have an exciting announcement: I have just joined the board of Candid Theater!  I’m honored to be asked, and enthusiastic about helping promote and support the efforts of such a great theatre company.

On to my weekly check-in.  What did I accomplish this past week?

Last week I had a meeting with a future scene partner that fell through, emailed three others about scenes, and have another meeting set up for this week. Now I just need to get on those other two. Didn’t go to class last week or this week because of financial reasons and work. Planning to be back in class next Monday for monologue day, with two monologues memorized.  Whew!

I did succeed in transcribing the commercials.  Check.  Now, I’m going to work on doing at least three more.

Did I work out at least three days last week?  That’s a really good question.  It depends on what I define as working out, so really I need to be more specific with myself.  I ended up working at the restaurant a lot last week, so I did a LOT of walking, but when I say “work out,” I specifically mean my HIIT program. Which I only did ONCE last week.  Boo.  If I do it Friday and Sunday this week, I’ll be doing better than last week, because I already did it yesterday.

Didn’t write at all this week.  Once again…boo.  And my blog post is late again.  Double boo. I can do better than that. 

I did cut one monologue from a play that I read last week, and found at least one other that might work. So, definitely a win in this category. Gonna use that for Monday's monologue class…

I saw Frank Theatre’s production of Love and Information by Caryl Churchill last week.  Not sure yet, but I think I am seeing Defying Gravity tonight at the Southern and the preview of Workhaus Collective’s new show Skin Deep Sea tomorrow night.  That’s two more *new plays! Well on my way to at least 80% this year!

*"new" meaning shows that are either being produced for the first time or that have not yet been produced here in the cities, though I may also decide to include shows that I have not personally seen on stage yet. 

Didn’t get any of my tax stuff done and had to reschedule my filmmaker meeting because I wasn’t feeling well.  I think part of this process is going to be actually learning to schedule in time for these things which aren’t directly paying me. I’m really good at scheduling time for work that pays and for hanging out with friends, and I’m really good at wasting time that isn’t scheduled.

Other things I accomplished last week:

  • I mentioned this already, but I saw one play, and I watched two movies: one was a foreign horror film called Sennentuntschi: Curse of the Alps (which I was enjoying somewhat until it got unnecessarily rapey, and then I fell asleep for the ending), and the other was the noir film Crime of Passion, starring Barbara Stanwyck, Raymond Burr, Sterling Hayden, and Fay Wray.  That movie was really fun to make fun of.  I didn’t get to the theater to see anything new this week, despite the fact I haven't yet seen SO MANY of the Oscar nominated films this year.
  • I finished reading Trust by Steven Dietz, Jerusalem by Jez Butterworth, and Inventing Van Gogh by Steven Dietz.  Only three plays left in my stack from the library!
  • I participated in one of the most fun karaoke nights I’ve had in a long time.  So many theater people! So much hilarity!

So, really…I have a lot more to accomplish this week.  And only a few days left.  Audition season has now begun, and I already have SEVEN auditions scheduled in the near future that I need to prepare for.  Onward and upward!

Goals for this week:

  1. Memorize two new monologues for class on Monday
  2. Transcribe 3-5 more radio spots
  3. Enter my mileage in my tax spreadsheet
  4. Work out on Friday and on Sunday, to make three times this week
  5. Read one more play before Sunday
  6. See two more brand new shows
  7. ????  That's probably more than I can do as is...it's Valentine's Day this weekend, and the restaurant I work at is going to keep me busy

 

Theatrical Fortnight

I meant to post this Sunday night, but got sidetracked. Going to have to be more mindful in the future...

Part of keeping myself on track this year is going to be setting goals, and another part is going to be me writing about what I do each week.  Sometimes it's hard to see progress or feel like I'm working on "my craft" when I really am (for example: those dead spaces where I'm not in a show, but keep busy with auditions, class scenes, writing, reading plays, and other actor-related things).  And other times, I lose sight of the art I love and spend weeks doing nothing to work toward any goals whatsoever, and then wind up feeling really lost and purposeless. 
A major goal is to not get stuck in the latter one this year.  Having goals is important.  And achieving big goals requires lots of little tiny steps toward them, not big, giant leaps. 

Baby steps.

My goals for 2015:

1. Do 10 scenes for class.  Not including remounts.  Last year I only did 3 all year (plus remounts), and so I hope to do much better this year.

2. Record my voiceover demo.

3. Get new headshots.

4. Write at least weekly in my blog, and publish 5 articles before the end of the year.

5. Find and rehearse 5 new monologues for audition season.

6. See approximately 80% new work, 20% previously produced shows.

That's what I've got so far.  I might add more goals as the year goes on. 

So, the past 14 days of my life as an actor have been filled with a ton of theater-related things. There is no particular order of importance placed on these things, though perhaps there should be. Some of them are definitely more meaningful, more purposeful, and more in-line with my goals than others. I'm going to star the ones that are important baby steps toward my bigger goals.

  • I put up two scenes from Magnolia in class, and then remounted them the following Monday.***
  • At my job at the U of M Medical School, I played the mother of a sick infant; I worked on communications and presentation skills for case presentations; and I helped first years practice their exam skills with me as their patient.
  • I checked out a giant stack of plays from the library and have read quite a few of them (The Flick, Halcyon Days, Shooting Star, In a Forest Dark and Deep). I'm currently reading Trust, by Steven Dietz.***
  • I went to see three shows, all new works: Theatre Novi Most's Rehearsing Failure and The Red Eye to Havre Grace at the Walker's Out There series were both devised pieces, and Loudmouth Collective's production of A Bright New Boise.***
  • I re-watched Breakfast at Tiffany's (in the interest of making my roommate watch it for the first time ever), watched Paul Thomas Anderson's film The Master, and saw A Most Violent Year.
  • I binge-watched Galavant.
  • I did a private play reading with some other actors for a company I'd love to work with.
  • I had a lovely dinner with my director from Candid Theatre's production of Hauptmann.
  • I was asked to do four separate paid gigs which I was unable to accept because of conflicts with other commitments.
  • I auditioned for one play and was called back. Auditions are still a bit sparse at the moment.
  • I attended birthday festivities for three different theater friends and the Bar Mitzvah of another theater friend's son; My friend Rachel taught me two chords on the ukelele, and I tried out some new songs at karaoke, so I feel musically accomplished; and I went dancing at Transmission for David Bowie night. 

I think that's a pretty good start to my year!  Now on to my second month...

Small steps I want to take this week toward each of my big goals:

1. Email possible scene partners about a few more class scenes.  I have possibly in the works two scenes.  I'm meeting with one classmate on Thursday to discuss, and the other one hasn't gotten back to me yet.

2. Transcribe 3 commercials that I've recorded that I could use for my demo.

3. I have to pay my taxes for last year before I can get new headshots, but I will work out at least three days this week.  Gotta get more in shape for my shots!

4. I will write on a topic of importance to me, some sort of rough draft. And I will update this blog by this Sunday as well.

5. I will cut a monologue or two from one of the plays I read recently.

6. I am seeing one play this week, and it's Caryl Churchill's newest play, Love and Information...so I think I'm doing good on my percentage so far. 

Also:

Taxes.  I need to get my tax stuff for last year together.  This is not working toward any big goals, but it needs to get done, so this week I would like to get all my mileage entered in my spreadsheet.

I am meeting with a filmmaker I know to discuss a project we want to work on together.

I'm sure that's plenty...I still have work and rehearsal for Commedia Day with Shadow Horse Theater, which is February 25th.  I'm sure all of this will keep me quite busy!

Until next Sunday...

 

And We're Off!

Well, there has been no real time for reflection.  Not really.  What with that family holiday stuff, working solid since I've been back in town.  Who needs to reflect?  Okay, I probably still should, but I haven't had time to figure out numbers and such or finish my record-keeping for last year, so maybe let's just do a little bit right now. 

Auditions:

I do keep track of my auditions. In theory.  In practice, I have no clue.  I'm really really bad at keeping my spreadsheet updated.  Back when I started keeping track and trying to get myself to go to many many auditions just to get over my fear of them, I believe during my first year of having that goal I went to 55 auditions, and I thought that was a lot.  Since then I've gotten a little more selective about my auditions, but I still think that 60 is about average. I might find out differently after I do my tally. I already know that my callback rate has gone WAY up over the past few years, so that's always a positive.

Performances:

I was in only two actual full length shows (Crazyface by Clive Barker with Shadow Horse Theatre and Hauptmann by John Logan with Candid Theater).  Crazyface took about three months out of my year, though, and the other about two months.  I did one music video and World Commedia Day as well (which was a full two hour show, but improvised, so that should count for something, right?), and I did Chameleon Theatre Circle's season preview day, performing a piece from their upcoming production of Durang's "Betty's Summer Vacation."

Class Scenes:

Ugh, this might be harder.  I know I did a scene from Butterflies are Free, one from Other Desert Cities, and then one from the movie Housesitter.  I think that's it.  There were a few others discussed and then shelved for various reasons.  That's not the best record. Okay, that's a terrible record, actually. I will do better this year!!

With that in mind...

My next blog post is going to be about the roles that I'm working on for class right now and the challenges inherent in each.  I've got three scenes on the books, so there's plenty I need to be doing to prepare for them. Research is one of those things I'm apparently terrible at getting myself interested in doing (though it wasn't always that way...hm, I wonder what THAT'S about), so writing about my roles here and the research into each will be a fun exercise. 

Reflection

So, it's that time of year for reflection.  And I'm going to SO do some of that.  Soon.  I want to put together some statistics and compare with previous years.  I'm kind of a dork and keep spreadsheets of many things, but I do like to keep track of how I'm doing theater-wise in particular. 

The beginning of this past year was a bit fraught, with some very large life changes for me: breakup, move, giving away one of my cats. (No worries...Luna found a good home with my friend Rachel). Because of all this, acting got put on the backburner somewhat.  I was still auditioning, but my priorities were figuring out where I and my cats were going to live, if I would be able to afford it, and where I might work if I needed to find a new job. Luckily, my friend Neal needed a roommate, and I moved into his lovely home in Minneapolis. Neal, our other roommate Ryan, and Ryan's cat Milo have been wonderful roommates, and they and my friends have all been very supportive in my year of big changes. 

During this transition, I did find time to perform in World Commedia Day with my friends at Shadow Horse Theater, and then I spent eight weeks rehearsing and four weeks performing in Crazyface by Clive Barker.  That show was so physically demanding that I lost ten pounds(!) I took a breather after that and just enjoyed going to see many Fringe shows, attending the Ivey Awards, and then worked on Hauptmann by John Logan with Candid Theatre.  I acted in one music video this year. And I wrote two articles that got published, one for Minnesota Playlist and the other for Paid Actor. 

It's been a light theater year, but a good one.  I'm going to work on that spreadsheet, and I'll be back with some concrete numbers.  I like to know how much progress I'm making.

Also, I just wrote another article that I'm trying to get published. If it doesn't get picked up, then I plan to publish it here at my blog and do the follow ups here as well.  I have a plan.  Stay tuned!